PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate: Is It Safe?



What Is PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate?

PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate is a synthetic polymer that functions as an emollient, surfactant, and emulsifier in cosmetics and skincare products.

PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate is a polyethylene glycol (PEG) ether of glyceryl cocoate. Glyceryl cocoate is a monoester of glycerin and coconut fatty acids, which are both very beneficial to the skin. Glycerin, also referred to as glycerol, is a natural alcohol and humectant that helps the skin to retain moisture. Coconut fatty acids restore the skin’s lipid barrier, which also helps to improve the skin’s moisture retention.

PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate is produced by the ethoxylation of glyceryl cocoate. Ethoxylation is a chemical reaction in which ethylene oxide is added to a substrate. In this case, 7 units of ethylene oxide are added to glyceryl cocoate (hence the 7 in the ingredient name).

PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate

the good:Helps to protect the skin’s natural barrier, improving moisture retention. It also helps to improve the texture and feel of the product.

the not so good:There are concerns about the presence of 1,4-dioxane in this ingredient. This is less of a concern more recently as the process of purifying PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate is highly regulated.

Who is it for?All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients:Works well with most ingredients

Keep an eye on:Nothing to keep an eye on here.

Why Is PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate Used?

In cosmetics and skincare products, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate functions as an emollient, surfactant, and emulsifier. PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate also helps to protect the skin’s natural barrier and retain the skin’s moisture levels. 

As an emollient, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate provides a lightweight and non-greasy barrier that helps to increase moisture retention at the skin’s surface. This property makes PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate very useful for products such as lotions, creams, and facial moisturizers. While all skin types can benefit from emollients like PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, emollients are especially helpful for those who have dry, rough, and/or flaky skin. Emollients may help to alleviate these symptoms, leaving the skin looking and feeling soft and smooth. In addition, emollients may benefit those that suffer from conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or other inflammatory skin conditions.

PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate also functions as a surfactant because it contains one end that is hydrophilic or attracted to water and one end that is lipophilic or attracted to oil. Surfactants work by lowering the surface tension between two substances, such as two liquids or a liquid and a solid. This allows surfactants to attract and suspends oils, dirt, and other impurities that have accumulated on the skin and wash them away. Due to these properties, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate can be found in many different cleansers, shampoos, and body washes.

As an emulsifier, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate is often used in formulations that contain both water and oil components. Mixing water and oil can be difficult as they tend to separate and split. To address this problem, an emulsifier like PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate can be added to improve the consistency of a product, which enables an even distribution of topical skin care benefits.

Is PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate Safe?

The safety of the PEG glyceryl cocoate ingredients, including PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, a group responsible for evaluating the safety of skincare and cosmetic ingredients. The Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that these ingredients were safe for use in rinse-off products and safe up to 10% in leave-on products.

Despite the approval of PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate by the CIR Expert Panel, there are concerns about the presence of ethylene oxide in this ingredient. This is because the process of ethoxylation may lead to contamination with 1,4-dioxane, a potentially dangerous by-product. 1,4-dioxane is a known animal carcinogen that penetrates readily into the skin. According to the National Toxicology Program,  ‘1,4-dioxane is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.’ It has also been linked with skin allergies. However, the potential presence of 1,4-dioxane can be controlled through purification steps to remove it before blending PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate into cosmetic formulations.

References:CIR, 1999. ‘Final Report on the Safety Assessment of PEG-7, -30, -40, -78, and -80 Glyceryl Cocoate’, International Journal of Toxicology



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